When you grow accustomed to having a certain thing in your life, it is hard to imagine what you’d do without it. For Crowley, who had been used to the presence of Aziraphale for nearly six thousand years, imagining it was damn near impossible. Witnessing first hand the angel’s bookshop up in flames and his corporeal form less-than tangible, Crowley was forced to face two inalienable truths:
One, a world without Aziraphale was simply not a world worth imagining and even less so worth experiencing. The hours that Crowley spent under the impression that someone had murdered his counterpart, albeit brief, were the worst hours of his earthly life. In fact, he might be so bold as to say that they were the worst hours of his entire existence.
Two, Crowley’s feelings for Aziraphale had changed dramatically since Armageddon (though, a more accurate statement would be that Crowley’s awareness of his feelings had been what changed and not the feelings themselves). And these feelings had been eating away at the demon for the two months since the Armageddon-that-wasn’t.
At a glance, no one would notice any changes between the two. They went about their business as normal, meeting in the park to walk, dining at the Ritz (and other various, angel-approved establishments), and going to one or the other’s place of residence for a night cap (much like they currently were). At a glance, all was normal.
Crowley, however, was not glancing. He was very pointedly brooding , not that he’d ever admit to it. As he drank, body collapsed in the angel’s plush armchair, his mind slithered through the events of recent history. Images pooled around him, flashes of memories now cast in a new, decidedly more human light.
And as with anything decidedly human, emotions must come into play. Crowley found himself increasingly more aware of the little things he appreciated about Aziraphale. Picnics during sunset when the light would catch his profile just so, casting a warm — dare he say, ethereal — halo of light around him.
The way he would mouth along when engrossed in a book, a quirk Crowley wasn’t sure he was entirely aware of, all while impossibly curled into his wooden desk chair.
The way he was humming along to the Franz Schubert symphony that was playing as they nursed their Chateauneuf du Pape of the evening across from each other.
And it was moments like these that Crowley realized just how ineffably human he’d become. Experiencing Aziraphale in such vulnerable, delicate occasions created a bubbling feeling in his chest that was damn near impossible to ignore. Like imaginations, demons were very explicitly not to experience affectionate emotions. Things like bliss, like gratitude, like… love. All experienced by and for and through Aziraphale. If anyone were to know of Crowley’s dealings with such sentiments he would surely be met with consequences.
Except for the fact that it wasn’t an issue anymore. That him and Aziraphale had chosen their faces wisely and seemingly, for the time being, gotten themselves some privacy. For all intents and purposes, Crowley could ostensibly revel in these shiny and new affectionate emotions.
“ —ley? Dear? Crowley ? Are you with me, dear?”
Crowley jolted, eyes snapping back to focus on Aziraphale’s (concerned) expression. He had put down his glass and was hovering about an inch off his chair, seemingly hesitating about moving closer to the demon. Crowley cleared his throat and looked around the room.
“Oh no worries, Angel, ‘s all right. Jus’ more exhausted than usual, really.”
Aziraphale nodded and sat down again. Taking a sip from his glass, he replied,
“Feel free to take the bed, dear, if you’re so tired. No use risking discorperation to go home.”
And with a yawn came the response:
“‘M already home,”
Now, if he had been well-rested, if he had been entirely sober, if he had been on his feet instead of curled cozily into a chair with the warmth of the cluttered bookshop surrounding him, he maybe would have thought things through. Instead, though, he spoke his thoughts and they left as fast as they arrived, leaving Crowley’s mind empty and Aziraphale reeling.
“You said… well, I thought you said but maybe not, I could simply be projecting I suppose.”
Aziraphale stood and started cleaning, putting away the wine and bustling around the room in a flurry. Crowley, now well aware that he missed something, straightened up in his seat.
“What’re you on about, Aziraphale?”
Aziraphale stopped, back to Crowley, and sighed. With shaky hands, he finished putting
away whatever he had been twiddling with and turned around. He smiled.
“It’s nothing, really. Don’t fret. You’re tired, Crowley, please go get some sleep. The bed is made.”
“No no no I’m plenty awake now, Angel, no use hiding it from me.”
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake Crowley, it isn’t that big of an issue.”
“Seeing as it’s got you in a twist I’d say it’s pretty bloody big.”
Aziraphale let out an exasperated groan and pinched the bridge of his nose before (finally) asking,
“Do you feel loved here, Crowley?”
. . . . .
Silence . One so encompassing that you could hear a pin drop. Aziraphale stood firm, staring intensely at Crowley, who was frozen, mouth ajar.
Aziraphale bit his lip, but held his ground.
“Do you feel loved here? Welcome here? Like… you’re safe. Loved .”
Crowley stood suddenly, knocking his glass to the ground. Aziraphale flinched but quickly miracled it away.
“I’m a demon, Aziraphale. We don’t — I don’t feel love. Ever. Anywhere. You know that.”
Aziraphale cast his gaze downward and swallowed. Crowley pretended not to notice.
“That’s not what I meant, dear. I don’t… expect you to feel love, the emotion that is. I simply meant… well I suppose it doesn’t really matter. You’ve already answered.” His voice grew tighter with each word.
“Well, alright. I should be off, then.”
Pushing his sunglasses tighter against his face, Crowley — suddenly overwhelmed — stumbled toward the general direction of the door. A loose plank of wood — one that he would argue was not there previously — wedged itself over his foot and caused him to stumble, nearly ramming head first into a bookcase. Aziraphale grabbed his elbow and waist, spinning him around until he was back on his feet. His bright eyes were widened, breath caught.
“Are you okay?”
Crowley nodded, unable to speak. Suddenly aware of the heat spreading from where Aziraphale was holding him, he tore himself away and pressed down his coat.
“I should… I should really be going. There’s, um, plants and… things,” Crowley muttered, trailing off at the end. Before he could turn too far, Aziraphale grabbed his sleeve. Brows furrowing, Crowley stole himself a look at his angel.
His blue eyes were wide and pleading, a look he had seen before but never at this calibre, and they flitted around Crowley’s face in fear.
“Do you really need to go?”
Crowley swallowed hard, mind running through hundreds of possible excuse scenarios at once, but each one, he found, ended with the same heartbroken expression taking residence on Aziraphale’s face. So he nodded, pulled his elbow away, and despite his constricted throat, replied,
“Alright,” he walked slowly back over to the chair he had previously been lounging in, “I’m only going to have the bollocks for this once, Angel, so please let me get it out without interjection.”
Aziraphale nodded frantically, nearly scrambling back to his own chair. In contrast to their normal set up, Crowley sat stark upright, nowhere near lounging. Aziraphale sat similarly, though much closer to the edge of his seat — his anticipation radiated off of him like a child waiting their turn to open gifts on Christmas morning. Crowley made a point to look everywhere except at the angel.
“Right,” there was a shaky hesitation in his voice that he was not used to, “ Right . Okay. Azi — Ang — um — Aziraphale,”
His yellow eyes flitted briefly to the angel’s face, who smiled encouragingly, and darted immediately back down toward his own hands.
“This has been on my mind a lot recently, honestly probably has been stopping me from being fully a part of conversations — sorry ‘bout that one — and I want to tell you but I’m not… well, you’ve always been the wordy one of the two of us… but I need to say it so just bear with me. I’m a demon, Aziraphale. And when you become a demon you lose a lot of things, things I pray that you never have to experience because without them the world feels very cold and very empty and very scary . And yeah, after a while it gets easier, you learn how to cope with it, fill the void, whatever, but you can still tell what’s gone and sometimes its unbearable. I lost love , Angel. Lost what it feels like and how to sense it and I thought, up until very recently, the emotion entirely.”
Aziraphale could feel his throat constricting, glossy eyes begging for Crowley to look at him. His hands ached to reach out, to provide comfort in any way he knew how. But he made a promise, so he didn’t. Crowley continued.
“I want to love you, Aziraphale, and I do. I love you deeply and fully and in ways I didn’t realize I was capable of but… I’m scared. Not of Hell, not of Heaven, not of our uptight or never-present bosses, but of you. I’m not supposed to feel love and for all I know it could be broken and evil or vanish entirely any day now and I am scared shitless of losing you. If I thought you being discorporated was hard, imagining you still here and not being able to see you — of you wanting nothing to do with me — that’s more than I can bear, Angel. I can’t do it.”
An uncomfortable silence fell over the room as he finished. He wrung his hands around his tie, using the rough texture to ground him as he breathed. Slowly. He still hadn’t looked up and despite the fact that Aziraphale knew both of them were trying not to cry, he simply was not able to deal with the feeling of loneliness that had purveyed in the space. When they were together, that feeling was supposed to vanish entirely. To Aziraphale, it always had, and he thought — no — he knew it did for Crowley, too.
He took a moment to close his eyes and breathe, much like his counterpart, before slowly picking out his words. While Crowley’s confession had been more spur-of-the-moment ramble, Aziraphale took precautions and carefully selected each sentence as if the scene could break.
“Crowley, dear,” he started, a standard beginning for him but he noticed Crowley flinch nevertheless,
“It was never my intention to make you feel like you needed to love or feel loved or have any emotions toward me at all and I’m deeply sorry if it came off that way,”
Crowley’s head snapped up, brows knit together. He opened his mouth to refute but was stopped by Aziraphale raising his hand.
“I listened to you, dear, now it’s time you listen to me.”
Never the best at following orders, Crowley’s cheeks puffed out while he slumped back against the chair. Aziraphale stifled a chuckle.
“I was too confrontational earlier and I realize that. I should have known it was a tetchy topic. It simply slipped my mind because, well to put it frankly, I can sense love. Your love, specifically. Whether or not you were aware of it until recently, I have been able to sense it for years and Crowley, nothing is wrong with it. There is nothing off or fiendish about the love that radiates out and around you. What you feel isn’t bad or broken and it has been ever present for so long that I truly do not think it will simply up and vanish. And even if it did, well, I would be grateful to have had it even for a little bit. You may not be able to sense it, Crowley, but I want you to know that it is reciprocated in full.”
The silence returned, though this time in a different hue. It was no longer a heavy and uncomfortable silence, but instead transformed into something softer, something brimming with promise (and a little nervous energy). Despite the open floor, Crowley found himself at a complete loss. He had never been the wordy one, after all. Aziraphale, on the other hand, still had plenty that he longed to do and say and was finding great difficulty in restraining himself.
“We don’t have to talk about it any more tonight, if you don’t want —”
“No I want to!” Crowley interjected. Aziraphale startled slightly. Crowley blushed.
“I mean, um, that is if you want to, Angel. ‘S a two person conversation, after all.”
Aziraphale let out a soft chuckle and nodded, waiting for Crowley to continue.
“Right, so… you — you love me? And not just in the holy, ‘God’s love’ way?”
“Yes, I do believe so. I love you quite an extraordinary amount, dear.”
Crowley nodded as his face grew the color of his hair. He resisted the urge to hide it in his hands as he let out a conflicted and nervous groan. Aziraphale smiled and sighed before standing from his chair. As he walked toward the demon, he replied,
“Stand with me my dear, come here.”
Crowley shot up as the angel approached. Aziraphale faced him, shaking his head slightly.
“‘S everything alright, Angel?”
“Everything’s perfectly fine, stop worrying. I just…”
Hands shaking, Aziraphale reached up and slowly removed Crowley’s sunglasses.
“ …want to see your eyes, is all.”
Now exposed, Crowley knew he looked absolutely enamoured. He was vulnerable, more so than he’d been all night, and despite being filled to the brim with anxious energy, he felt as serene as he’d ever been. And with the angel as close as he was, Crowley really couldn’t be blamed for his actions (at least that’s what he’d tell himself). He leaned down and, almost as if Aziraphale had been anticipating this, they captured their lips together.
And oh. That’s what humans had been going on about .
Soft lips, still tainted with the taste of wine, moved against each other in harmony as six thousand years’ worth of puzzle pieces finally fell together.
Aziraphale pulled away first, Crowley’s lips nearly chasing his before settling into a pout as the demon opened his eyes. The angel chuckled and brought a gentle hand to cup the side of his face. Stroking softly with his thumb, he said,
“We’re meant to be talking, love.”
Crowley covered Aziraphale’s hand with his own, sighing into the touch. Other hand finding purchase on the small of his angel’s back, Crowley replied
“Tomorrow, I promise. Over lunch, a picnic. Tonight let’s just… be together. Is that okay?
Aziraphale brought his demon’s face back down toward his own, gently kissing him.
“We have all the time in the world.”